CinemaCon: Barco Unveils ‘Wraparound’ Screen System

CinemaCon: Barco Unveils 'Wraparound' Screen System

Ted Schilowitz disrupted film and TV production with the Red digital camera. Now, having left Red behind, he is looking to disrupt the moviewatching experience — for cinema’s own good.

“If cinema stands still, it will lose,” says Schilowitz, tech firm Barco’s newly anointed “cinemaVangelist” sitting in front of a demonstration of what he hopes will be his next disruptive technology: a wraparound screen system dubbed Escape.

Escape adds additional screens on either side of the theater, extending most of the way to the back wall. A pair of projectors at the front of the house throw onto the side screens.

“The goal is to provide a bigger, more intense, more encompassing canvas,” Schilowitz says, “to extend the boundaries of cinema, to open the possibilities of what happens when you break out of the rectangle.”

Theme parks, planetariums and museums have done wraparound screens before, and even the old Cinerama system tried to extend the screen to the edges of the aud’s peripheral vision. But Escape doesn’t require a purpose-built theater; it’s designed to fit any existing multiplex.

“We’re getting ready for our first deployment and we’ll be showing a deployable system at CinemaCon,” says Schilowitz. The cost per theater is expected to be $135,000 to $185,000.

Studios are showing interest, according to Barco. Only Fox and Disney were approached about Escape during its development. Fox, where Schilowitz is on the payroll as “futurist/consigliere,” is eyeing the format for its upcoming “Maze Runner” and “Ruin,” and will show early results of its experiments at CinemaCon. Disney is also trying out Escape. Other studios may join in.

Besides restoring auds’ excitement for cinema, the Escape system aims to turn pre-show advertising into something audiences will engage with, rather than something to be ignored while they play with their phones.

Schilowitz recognizes that filmmakers will have to discover how to use the Escape side screens. In narrative films, Escape can create a very strong sensation of being inside the action. Alternatively, the side screens can be used for split-screen video collages, which suits some documentary-style footage.

“This is an evolving medium. If you choose not to evolve, you die,” says Schilowitz. “This is where we think it has to go.”

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  1. Adrian says:

    I think movies now a days are one of three intersecting rings. 1st: Well directed/acted stories. 2nd: Visually driven DoP Movies and then finally the rare combination of the two.

    This technology created by Jack Hattingh and Adam Demafalies …. Not Ted Schilowitz”,
    would greatly enhance two of these rings.

    I for one dislike wearing 3D glasses but want more than IMAX(sorry guys love you though ). I also am blessed with amazing preferal vision and would love to attend this Movie Theatre Event.

    I saw the tests Jack and Adam did in Norway last year and they were amazing.

    Adrian
    DIT local 600

  2. Abe says:

    I have to say these ‘technological revolutions’ really miss the mark. Bigger issues are extremely poor scripts, high cost at the theater (entirely due to studios expensive licensing agreements), same voices writing and directing (where are the non-white directors, female directors, youth directors, gay directors, lesbian directors etc).

    If movies cost $3 a person in a theater I would go, where I am it’s $14 per person. I just don’t want to run the risk of spending that much on a badly written story.

    Here are some better ideas then a bigger screen or a gimmick:

    – create a ‘common good’ board made up of a randomly selected group each time, they review the script and vote ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ to see if it’s good enough to actually bring to life. This gives the common man some say in what’s being made and produced and put out there.

    – each major studio is mandated to fund at least 3 brand new minority script writers and directors per year so we hear their stories. Fresh blood, continually, and from voices we don’t hear from day in and day out.

    – make every movie available via streaming first for no more than $3 per movie per 24hr viewing. IF the streaming views are positive and you reach X percent of views then you go to theater with everyone who streamed it getting $3 off the ticket sale. Use streaming as a way to judge what is successful enough to run on ‘the big screen’ Phase out a bunch of movie theaters.

    Amazingly I bet all of that costs pennies compared to retro-fitting theaters. It’s not the theater or the technology that keeps me away. It’s the expense of the movie ticket compared to the low value (poor story) of movies these days.

  3. jk says:

    Interesting but more gimmicks won’t save cinema. The screens are overflowing with a glut of bad movies and an endless stream of worse remakes. The audience quickly tires of the gimmicks, as they have with 3D. Quality movies will bring people.

  4. Kristen Kofoed says:

    You forgot to mention the real genius behind the wraparound screen, Jack Hattingh with PointCloud Media out of Houston, TX.

  5. johntshea says:

    And what’s wrong with the ceiling too?

  6. Bruce Wright says:

    People said the exact same things about color, sound, multi-channel sound, surround sound, 3d, cinerama, CGI, widescreen, digital projection, framerate, etc.

    ANY format innovation elicits wags talking about “story”. It’s a Hollywood law that the most predictable voices always chime in, not with the zeal of a filmmaker wanting to experiment in a new creative space, but with the mind of a critic who wishes to return to some imagined purer and more artistic era of cinema. Ah for the Pure, High-minded Noble cinema of black and white silents! The true cinema!

    My take? There are NO barriers to human creativity in cinema, and no permanent frontiers in the cinema experience. Those who insist that formats be permanent and fixed forever are better off sticking to stamp collecting.

    If this appeals and sparks the interest of filmmakers, I’d love to see what people create with it!

  7. blutarsky says:

    i feel as though i work in the least fertile period of hollywood filmmaking. the fact that movies have less and less appeal to people, as evidenced by declining receipts and texting in theaters, is not due to the need for more “immersive” gimmicks. it’s due to the fact that basic storytelling has declined so drastically. every single story idea is muddied by the input of committee-members who need to justify their existence. this never fails to result in a story mess which cannot resonate with anyone. no amount of expensive visual effects or new technical process will fix this. executives in particular need to learn to back away from the creative process because they only dilute it with their poor judgment.

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